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The first thing you’ll notice with moneyline odds is that there is either a positive or negative sign in front of the number. What that sign denotes is how much you’ll win betting on each side. If there’s a positive sign next to the odds, that indicates the amount of money you would win if you bet $100. If the odds on a tennis player said +150, that means that for a $100 bet, you would win $150. Now if there is a minus sign in front of the odds, that is the number that you would have to bet in order to win $100. For example, if a football team was -250, that means you’d have to bet $250 to win $100.
There are many ways that you can bet on football and I will go over all of the different options below. The first and most common bet is the straight bet, which simply means the team wagered on must win by the point spread given at the time of the wager. Most of the time the odds on a straight bet is -110, which means for every $110 bet, you win a $100 back. An example of a straight bet is if the team you bet on is a 6 point (-6) favorite, also known as giving up 6 points. Then in order for you to win, the team taken in the wager must win by more than 6 points in order to collect your winnings. If they win by 6, then this will be called a push and your original bet will be refunded to you. You can also bet on the totals, which is also known as the over/under bet. The totals bet is The combined score of both teams for games wagered on, all totals pay out at -110, which is $110 dollar bet makes you $100, no matter if you bet on the over or the under. If the total score equals the line, then the bet is a push and you get your original bet back. Another type of bet is the money line bet. This bet is simply that team wagered on just has to win the game. The odds on these games vary depending on the disparity between the favorite and the underdog. You obviously will win more betting on the underdog; however there is a reason why these bets pay more because the odds of the underdog winning are decreased. Although betting the moneyline can sometimes return a big sum, it is wise to know that the bookmakers hold percentage is much larger than a typical straight bet on the side or total of a game. A classic straight wager on the point spread is almost always dealt at -110 on both sides which is 20 cents of vigorish. Compare that to a double digit favorite in college football with a money line of -600/+450 and you can see the extra 130 cents of vig added in.
Identify the favorite: Lines with a - before the number (i.e. -200) indicate the favorite. A -200 should be read as: "For every $200 wagered, I win $100." When there is a negative sign, the line should always be read with relation to 100. That does not mean you have to bet that much, it's just easiest to understand! When a + sign is present, just reverse the reading, always keeping reference to 100:
A listed odd with a + sign in front of it, such as the +120 in our example above, shows us how much money you would win on a $100 bet. Using the +120 odds, it shows us that a $100 bet on that outcome would pay out $120 in profits. Again this can easily be converted into smaller or larger size bets. A $10 bet on +120 odds would pay out $12 in profits.
The true purpose of a pointspread when it is released by any sportsbook is to try and attract an equal amount of betting action on either side of a matchup. If all the early money is flooding in on New England as the favorite with a seven point spread, the betting outlet handling this action is likely to move that betting spread to 7.5 points to try and attract some money towards Miami as the underdog.
The -110 listed is the actual odds given for these bets, and the odds determine how much you win based on the amount of your wager. This is why the odds are often called the price of a bet. When you see -110 odds, you need to bet $110 to win $100. Of course, you don't need to literally bet $110; that is just the ratio of the amount bet to the amount won. You can bet $11 to win $10, $20 to win $18.18, etc.
As an example, let’s consider a matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals. In our scenario, the Bengals are the home team, which means they will be listed last and the Colts, as the visitors, will be on the odds slip first. If Indy’s rotation number is 101, then Cincy’s rotation mark would be 102. When you place a bet live at a Vegas sportsbook or over the phone, you would say the number of the team on which you want to wager and not the name.
So the sportsbooks and bookies created a point spread to make both teams equally attractive in the eyes of bettors. Carolina was installed as a 6-point favorite, which is commonly written as Carolina -6. Denver, the underdog, is commonly written as Denver +6. In other words, Denver would be credited with whatever points they actually scored — plus six. If you bet the favorite, the Panthers would have to win by 7 points or more for you to win your wager. And remember, the Panthers are favored by 6 points, so we have to subtract 6 points from their final score for betting purposes.
To achieve this balance, the book can move the spread and/or the juice at any time after the first lines hit the NFL odds board, all the way up until kick-off. If there had been too much action on the Packers at Super Bowl 1, the oddsmakers could have made Kansas City a 15-point underdog (+15), in order to encourage more people to bet on the Chiefs. They also could have kept the spread at 14 points and moved the juice, perhaps to –105 for Kansas City and -115 for Green Bay. You’ll often see the books adjust the juice first when the spread is three points; since so many NFL games end in a winning margin of three points (roughly one in six games), moving the spread from 3 to 3.5 points is a pretty big deal, and it might tilt the balance too far in the other direction.
This is different from a moneyline, where payouts can vary greatly because there is not point spread that is installed. It is simply picking the winner straight up. Therefore, a bet on the favorite would not profit as high as it would betting the spread since no points are given. Payouts on the point spread are not always the same, but they do not vary like a moneyline.
Oddsmakers want you to gamble on underdogs as well as favorites. They set points spreads that encourage balanced betting. They analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each team, factoring in won-loss record, strength of schedule, results against common foes, key injuries, recent performance and previous games between the teams. They also rate the value of home field advantage and consider the game day weather forecast where relevant. If they see heavy wagering on the favorite, they will increase the point spread during the week to spur more betting on the underdog. If more money is going on the underdog, the spread will decrease as game time nears.
We hope this short beginner’s guide to understanding and interpreting odds will give you the confidence to get out there and start making winning bets. Our experts are here to help you on this journey, so do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you have about sports betting! We have only scratched the surface on reading betting lines, but this is an excellent place to start.
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